The Blue Jackets Fall Just Short

Kish and I went out to dinner last night with friends, and downtown was hopping.  The Blue Jackets were playing, a potential spot in the NHL playoffs was on the line, and many of the people we saw were wearing their CBJ colors. 

We kept our eye on the TV as we dined, keeping track of the game, and continued to follow it when we stopped in a Short North bar for a frosty adult beverage after dinner.  Everyone in the establishment cheered when the CBJcame away with a hard-fought 3-1 victory, but our joy was short-lived — the other two teams vying for playoff spots won, and as a result the Blue Jackets are once more going to stay home for the NHL playoffs.

It was an exciting season for the Blue Jackets, and even non-hockey fans like me had to appreciate this team that wouldn’t quit and ended the season playing as well as anybody in the NHL.  Still, I’m not much for moral victories.  The fact remains that the CBJ didn’t quite play well enough to make the playoffs, and that is the bottom line.

I hope this young team can stay together, I hope that their young goalie, Sergie Bobrovsky, can continue to play as well as he did this year, and I hope that next year the Blue Jackets play for the entire season like they did over the last six weeks.  Hope, hope, and more hope.  If you are a hockey fan in Columbus, that’s what you’ve got to go on until next fall.

The CBJ And The Hunt For An Elusive Playoff Spot

The Columbus Blue Jackets are fighting for a perch in the National Hockey League playoffs, and in their quest for the post-season they are taking the people of Columbus along for a sweet ride.

The Blue Jackets, unfortunately, have a record of failure.  Since beginning play in 2000, the team has made the playoffs precisely once.  In most of those years, the Blue Jackets collapsed and were out of the playoffs early — which means there hasn’t been much playoff excitement in the Columbus hockey world.

This year, no one except the most ardent fan had any reason to expect anything different.  The Blue Jackets had traded their best player, Rick Nash, and had a grab bag roster.  But the team has jelled under the stewardship of coach Todd Richards and has a hot goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, who has instilled confidence in his teammates.  To the delight of fans, the team has been terrific in April and has been especially good on its current west coast road trip, on which the Blue Jackets have won four out of five games.  With last night’s nail-biter win over the San Jose Sharks, the CBJ moved into a tie for seventh place with two games to play.   Eight teams make the playoffs.

It would be great for the city of Columbus to see some playoff hockey that will keep the arena district humming for a while longer, but it would be particularly rewarding to see the franchise generally, and this group of players specifically, achieve some success.  The franchise has been a good corporate citizen, and the players are a scrappy, hard-working bunch that it is impossible not to like — particularly when they say the word “aboot.”

So, let’s go, Jackets!  Clap, Clap, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP.

Blue Jackets On A Roll

Columbus has two professional sports franchises — the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer team, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, a National Hockey League franchise.  (Some would argue that the real big-league team in town is the Ohio State Buckeyes.)

The Crew won the MLS Cup a few years ago, but the Blue Jackets have been a kind of Sad Sack team.  The made the playoffs one year and quickly were eliminated.  Other than that, their record has been abysmal.  In most years, they have been virtually eliminated from the playoff hunt by the beginning of January, and the hardy souls who buy season tickets are begging their friends to use the ducats thereafter.

This year is different.  The Jackets have a new coach, are playing a new style of hockey, and have started the season 13-6, including a stellar 7-1 record on the road.  The team has a good corps of young players, including star scorer Rick Nash, and two good goalies in Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason.  While the season is still young, there is hope in Columbus that the franchise may have turned the corner.  The question for hockey fans is whether the CBJ could be one of the NHL’s better teams, capable of playing deep into the playoffs — something that would be good for Columbus and great for the franchise.

We may learn the answer soon enough to the question about how good the Blue Jackets really are.  On Friday the perennial NHL power, the Detroit Red Wings, visit Nationwide Arena for a key divisional contest.